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Wests Tigers defeat Manly Sea Eagles 19-18 in Monday Night Football
August 03, 2009 Wests Tigers evoked memories of their run to the 2005 NRL premiership as they kept the 2009 dream alive with a thrilling 19-18 win over reigning premiers Manly at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The Tigers surged to their fourth straight win to close to within two points of eighth-placed Newcastle Knights, the home side forced to do it the hard way after withstanding a spirited Sea Eagles comeback after taking an 18-0 lead to the sheds at half-time.
Tigers skipper Robbie Farah looked like he had sealed victory when he slotted over a field goal for a 19-6 lead just after the hour, but Manly and New South Wales Origin backrower Anthony Watmough had other ideas as he steamed over from long range to keep the Sea Eagles in the contest.
When Watmough, who continued his rich vein of form with another stunning display, crashed over for his second five minutes from time, it looked like momentum would carry the Sea Eagles over the line.
Matt Orford then shaved the posts with one field goal attempt and had a second charged down by Todd Payten as the visitors desperately tried to take the game into extra time.
But it was the skipper’s final pass over the sideline which ultimately killed off the premiers’ chances and kept alive the Tigers’ as they attempted to match the eight-game winning streak which propelled them into the 2005 finals.
The Tigers were all over Manly early in the contest, but save for a bizarre decision to take the two points from a fourth minute penalty, were unable to convert their ascendency to the scoreboard.
Manly looked like they had weathered the storm before Benji Marshall turned the course of the match with the first of three magical catches which put the Australia slips cordon to shame, Marshall reeling in a Jamie Lyon kick before outsprinting over-matched chaser George Rose on a 95-metre run to the line.
Tim Moltzen and fullback Shannon Gallant matched Marshall’s slick hands to spark another pair of tries to wingers Beau Ryan and Taniela Tuiaki, the Tigers scoring three tries in the space of nine minutes to stun the Sea Eagles.
Tony Williams finally got the visitors on the board when he turned Tigers defenders into ten pins on a barnstorming 40 metre run 13 minutes after the restart, his wing partner denied five minutes later when David Williams was pushed into touch just before touching down out wide.
Tigers coach Tim Sheens said there was little point looking to the deeds of 2005 for inspiration, claiming the task facing his side was simple - win every game or perish.
“There are still sides well in front of us, we just can’t afford to slip up, they can,” he said.
"The closer you get to it the more pressure builds on us.
“That’s been the problem every year, we haven’t handled the pressure of the last month.”
Marshall, one of the heroes of the 2005 triumph, said there was no comparing the late season surge to the one of four years ago.
“2005 was a long time ago and to tell you the truth, those are memories that I don’t know if we could ever recreate because we were so young,” Marshall said.
“Now we’re much older and we’ve got to be the senior players to take us to another level.”
Manly coach Des Hasler said the top four was still within reach for his side despite the setback, though he admitted the starts would have to improve.
“We might have shown plenty of character to come back in the second half but at the end of the day you just can’t give sides 18 points start,” he said.
Tigers backrower Gareth Ellis said he was hopeful of avoiding a charge after being penalised for a second half trip on Orford.
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WESTS TIGERS BEAT MANLY 19-18
By Wayne Cousins
Monday, August 03, 2009
Wests Tigers recorded a hard fought 19-18 victory over Manly Sea Eagles at the Sydney Football Stadium tonight to keep their finals hopes alive.
In front of a crowd of 13,531, Wests Tigers started strongly and got out to a good lead before the premiers came back hard to set the stage for an exciting finish.
The victory moves Wests Tigers to 22 points, just two points outside the top eight and leaves the team in ninth place.
Wests Tigers received a massive boost before the game with Keith Galloway and Chris Heighington returning from injury.
It will be Galloway’s first match since injuring a knee in the round 10 loss to South Sydney at the SCG.
It is Heighington’s first match back since injuring a leg in the round 14 win over Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium.
Alan Schirnack and Simon Dwyer have been omitted from the team.
Wests Tigers got the first attacking opportunity through a 40/20 kick by five-eighth Benji Marshall in the second minute. Referee Shayne Hayne penalised Manly second-rower Anthony Watmough in the ensuring set for being offside in making a tackle on lock Corey Payne.
Marshall converted the penalty attempt for a 2-0 lead after 5 minutes.
Manly were penalised four times in the opening nine minutes with captain Matt Orford called in by Hayne for a chat.
Wests Tigers full-back Shannon Gallant made a superb tackle on Manly second-rower Anthony Watmough in the 18th minute after the big forward made a break down the middle. Watmough was alllowed to get up and continue running despite what appeared to be a full tackle. Manly threw the ball wide and put through a grubber kick which Gallant allowed to go dead.
Manly second-rower Chris Bailey was held up by some desperate defence in the 25th minute. A chip kick on the last tackle by five-eighth Jamie Lyon saw Marshall catch the ball on the full to race 95 metres to score out wide with the only Manly player within sight being prop George Rose.
Marshall converted the try from out wide for an 8-0 lead after 28 minutes.
Wests Tigers jumped to a handy 12-0 leasd when winger Beau Ryan crossed behind the posts from a grubber kick behind the line by hooker and captain Robbie Farah.
The try was laid on after half-back Tim Moltzen defected a grubber kick and toed the ball ahead before regather and offloading to centre Blake Ayshford. Two plays later, Ryan scored.
Marshall converted the try for a 14-0 lead after 32 minutes.
Wests Tigers extended their lead to 18-0 two minutes later when Marshall gave a good ball to centre Chris Lawrence who drew and pass to winger Taniela Tuiaki who beat full-back Michael Robertson to score out wide. It came on the back of a superb run in broken play by full-back Shannon Gallant.
Marshall failed to convert the try for an 18-0 scoreline. The score remained that way till half-time with Wests Tigers members giving their team a standing ovation as they left the field.
Manly opened their account in the 52nd minute when giant winger Tony Williams ran 40 metres and pushed over Farah and two other defenders to score next to the posts. Captain and half-back Matt Orford converted the try to leave Manly trailing 18-6.
Ryan had a golden chance to score his second try when Ayshford managed to offload short of the line in a two man tackle in the 56th minute but his pass hit Ryan’s shoulder and went into touch.
Video referee Paul Simpkins was called on in the 58th minute to rule whether winger David Williams had scored on the last tackle or was he pushed into touch by Tuiaki. It was ruled no try.
Farah landed a field goal minutes later to extend the lead to 19-6.
Manly got back to 19-10 when Orford put Wtamough into a big gap to race away to beat Gallant to score behind the posts.
Orford converted the try for a 19-12 scoreline with 14 minutes remaining.
Wests Tigers had to absorb some enormous pressure inside their quarter in the 70th minute after Manly received six more tackles. It came after Orford gave what appeared to be a very dubious forward pass to Watmough.
Fortunately for Wests Tigers, Ayshford stripped the ball in a one on tackle. Ayshford is having his best game of the season.
Manly got a repeat set again after second-rower Gareth Ellis defused a grubber kick off the posts with six minutes remaining.
Watmough then grabbed his second try when he split the defence to score under the posts. Orford converted for a 19-18 scoreline with four minutes remaining as Wests Tigers members start chanting “Tigers, Tigers” to help lift their side.
Orford went for a field goal with just under three minutes remaining but the ball travelled right of the posts.
The Sea Eagles then had two more chances inside the final minute and were pulled down an inch of the line on one tackle. On the next play, Orford ran acrossfield and offloaded a desperate pass to Williams but the ball went behind the giant winger and over the sideline with 14 seconds remaining, much to the delight of Wests Tigers supporters, players and coaching staff .
Wests Tigers won the scrum feed and held on for a gutsy 19-18 victory to make it four consecutive victories.
Wests Tigers now play the Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium next Sunday.